Friday Five: 5 Places to Visit Before the World Ends

By: Scott McMahon

The Mayan calendar “expires” on Friday, Dec. 21. Whether the world actually ends or not (we’re banking on it not happening), many of us would likely feel that we left too many stones in the world unturned. Sites around the world are ideal spots for Outdoor Athletes to explore–we offer five for you to consider… assuming we make it past next Friday…

1. Machu Picchu


The ancient lost city of the Incan Empire. Located in Peru, Machu Picchu sits between two mountains, and offers a tremendous view of the surrounding area. Visitors who wish to visit the Incan ruins can take a train through the valley, or more adventurous tourists can travel along the 28-mile Inca Trail. For those that prefer a good hike, estimates range at around four days to reach Machu Picchu. We suggest the trail.

2. New Zealand

Lake Matheson

I’ll be honest, I’m writing this the day after seeing The Hobbit at midnight. Filming for all four movies based on the J.R.R. Tolkien classics took place in New Zealand, and for good reason. Aside from providing a nearly-perfect representation of Middle Earth, New Zealand has some of the most breathtaking scenery that the world has to offer. New Zealand has it all: rainforests, mountain ranges, waterfalls, scenic lakes (Lake Matheson is pictured above), beaches, etc. Definitely a place to get to before the world ends.

3. Scotland

photo courtesy of: International Student Centre Edinburgh

photo courtesy of: International Student Centre Edinburgh

Outdoor Athletes will be hard-pressed to find a better place to explore than Scotland. Filled with lakes, mountains, and impressive countryside, there is something for everyone in Scotland. Not sure how to fit it all in? Walk the West Highland Way, a 96-mile trail from the Glasgow area up to Fort William. Transcotland currently offers four different packages for hikers wishing to traverse the trail, with all of them lasting at least seven nights. For those looking to be more stationary in a visit, you’re almost always in range of a beautiful view wherever you stay.

4. Victoria Falls

photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

Victoria Falls, located on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border in southern Africa, is the world’s largest waterfall, with a width of 1,708 meters (1.06 miles) and a height of 108 meters (354 feet). Six main gorges carved out by the Zambezi River are also popular attractions. Visit between September and December and you may be able to enter “Devil’s Pool.” This naturally-formed pool has little current during these months, which has attracted many tourists to lay right on the edge of the tremendous drop.

5. Mount Everest

Mount Everest

Okay, maybe not as attainable of a goal as the other four, but if you have the opportunity and the physical/mental strength to climb Everest, do it! We all know the story of the tallest mountain in the world, over 29,000 feet high, with some of the most treacherous conditions known to humans in the “Death Zone,” the final 850 meters up to the summit. As of September 2011, more than 3,000 individuals had successfully scaled Mt. Everest. Will you join them?

Let us know where you think we should all go before the world ends! What did we miss?


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